I have yet to find a genuinely defensible argument in favor of abortion.
Now, that isn’t for lack of trying. Intellectually, I consider myself quite honest; if I find myself inclined toward a particular stance on an issue, I take it upon myself to rigorously research both sides and synthesize my own beliefs based both on beliefs already in my philosophy as well as the reading I do.
Abortion in particular, as both a highly controversial issue and something which I care deeply about, I have read upon extensively. Frankly, it baffles me that anyone who has done the same, as many have, can come to the conclusion that abortion is in any general sense justifiable.
I would like to address some of the inadequate arguments used in defense of abortion and against those who oppose abortion.
1. A fetus is just a clump of cells, so aborting it doesn’t mean anything.
Genuinely, I have no idea why this argument is still around. Scientifically, it is dangerous nonsense. I am just a clump of cells and tissue. So is everyone reading this.
2. The fetus depends on the mother for life, so the mother can choose to kill it.
Newborns, oddly enough, also depend on mothers for sustenance. This is especially true in less developed nations, where breastfeeding is the only way of keeping the child alive. And yet somehow, a six-inch trip down the birth canal that doesn’t even alter degree of dependency can award humanity to a child?
3. Being Pro-Life is inherently religious.
The fact that some religious organizations adopt stances on issues such as this does not make that stance a religious one. Plenty of religious groups oppose rape, but opposing rape is not an inherently religious stance. The defense of life is a civil rights issue; if the fetus is a child, then defending its life is just like defending the life of any other person.
What is curious to me is that people can find it in themselves to contend that defense of a person’s right to life somehow undermines women’s rights.
Legally, I cannot rob a bank. I cannot murder, I can’t fly a plane and I can’t practice law without a license. And yet, few people would assert seriously that I should be able to do these things.
So what is the difference between these issues and abortion? Clearly there can be some limitations on my autonomy without people claiming them unreasonable. If the fetus is a child, then its right to life clearly trumps the mother’s right to her body. That precedent has been unequivocally set throughout legal history.
This doesn’t undermine women’s rights – it means their rights never extended that far in the first place. Rights are not limitless.